Life, Once Again! - Chapter 886
“Um, am I really allowed to join you two?”
“What are you even saying at this point? Come on in.”
Joohyun handed her car keys to the valet parking agent and entered the restaurant first. Hamin watched as the rear lights of the car disappeared into the left side of the building. She ended up following all the way here, but she thought that perhaps just going inside like this was really being shameless.
“What are you doing? Not going in?”
Maru stopped just as he was about to go in.
“I somehow came all the way here, but I feel that this isn’t an occasion I should join. Also, I only called out to you because I had something to hear from you, not interrupt you two like this.”
Joohyun, who had left first saying that she had a prior engagement, actually turned out to be waiting for Maru. They didn’t look like they had an intimate relationship, but it was clear that they were close enough to meet up in private. It would be uncomfortable if an uninvited guest suddenly joined them when they met up to eat after a long time. If she was to return, she had to do it now. If she followed the two of them inside and ended up making the atmosphere awkward, her best day would turn into the worst.
“There’s nothing you can interrupt, so just come in already. Joohyun-noonim is the kind of person to mean what she says. She’s definitely not the kind of great person who would smile and do something that she doesn’t want to do, so don’t worry about that. In fact, if you decide to go now, you’ll get an earful from her, you know? Also, she looked like she wanted to talk to you. A person who was once her fan has grown up into an actress and appeared before her after all. If you really wish to leave, then I won’t hold you back. We can talk about Kang Giwoo over the phone. Well, it’s not like I have anything to tell you, but if you ask questions, I can answer them.”
Maru gestured towards the door with his chin. Hamin fidgeted her toes inside her heels before walking up the stairs. Finding out what happened between Maru and Giwoo was important, but above that, she did not want to miss the opportunity to talk to Ahn Joohyun on a private occasion. There was a load of stuff that she didn’t talk about during the show.
“First, let me apologize. I suspected you after just listening to one side of the story.”
“It’s fine since it hasn’t caused me any harm. You answered me well without ignoring me during the show too. We were quite good partners back there, don’t you think?”
“Yes, that’s true.”
Maybe it was because of the competitive spirit that was telling her not to lose against Maru that made her proactively talk back to every word he said. She planned to suppress him using her talking skills. Though, as time passed, she joined the flow rather than suppressing him and they became like a team.
They were guided to the 2nd floor by a waiter. Right in front of the stairs was a bar-like eating space. Two pairs of young couples were sitting side by side. The night scenery could be seen behind the whole-glass wall. The lights emitted by various buildings turned the big panes of glass into stained glasses.
“The lighthouses of overnight shifts, I see,” Maru said.
The rather emotional-looking scenery suddenly felt tragic. Hamin’s lips twitched. It wasn’t that she wanted him to get into the mood, but she definitely didn’t want him to break other people’s moods as well. Lighthouses of overnight shifts?
“What were you two up to that you were so late?” Joohyun said as soon as they opened the door and went inside.
Joohyun was no different from a model as she sat down comfortably on a chair with her coat off. She wanted to take a photo with her. It was an opportunity she did not want to miss as a fan since she was young. She fidgeted with her phone as she sat down. While taking glimpses at her, she met eyes with her.
“Miss Hamin. You’ve been giving me a lot of glances for a while, but I’m not such a strange person. The media likes to show me as a rough person, but they’re all just false reports.”
“They aren’t really false,” Maru said as he tilted his cup.
The way they exchanged jokes made them look like they were very close. She was once again worried that she might have interrupted an occasion she should not be joining.
“You can be at ease. I invited you out to eat because I wanted to talk to you, Miss Hamin. I’m personally grateful too, about you not forgetting what happened 10 years ago and telling me about it, as well as the fact that you made me such memories. Whether it’s how you look or what you said back then, they’re all so vague now, but I do remember two girls screeching while running towards me.”
“We weren’t screeching.”
“Even though I remember two girls shouting ‘unni’ in really loud voices as they ran across the sandy beach?”
“We did shout because we felt delighted, but it wasn’t on the level of a screech.”
She faintly recalled that the people around looked at them with surprise. Hamin scrubbed the table for no reason. It felt dream-like to talk to her face-to-face like this, but remembering what she did in the past made her embarrassed.
“Why did you want to see me so much when you were so young? I’m not entirely sure, but if I remember correctly, you told me that you came all the way to Busan from Seoul.”
“Yes, we did go to Busan from Seoul.”
“It must not be easy going all the way to Busan when you’re just a middle school student. Did you really come just to see me?”
“That friend of mine has a good driver. Moreover, she told me she would pay the travel expenses and told me to go with her. She was quite well-off, you see. Monetary problems are the biggest roadblock when you’re young, but that had been taken care of, so there was no reason for me not to go.”
The awkward silence lifted. Hamin became excited as she talked. She talked about the fact that she found out about Ahn Joohyun’s schedule through the mom of her friend, the fact that she had a sleepless night with the train ticket in her hand, the fact that she asked around everywhere in order to find Ahn Joohyun in Busan, and finally, the fact that she screeched after seeing her.
“See? You did screech,” Joohyun interrupted.
Hamin smiled awkwardly. Joohyun listened to everything she said joyfully without looking bored. Seeing her express that she was interested with her whole body made her even more excited which made her talk about how happy she was back then. She even mentioned how they laughed and chatted throughout the whole night at a hotel with the signed shirts.
“I’ll ask just in case, but do you still have that shirt with you?”
“I have it at home. It’s too small for me now, but I am keeping it.”
“Can’t you give it to me?”
“Even though I signed it for you?”
“I heard that taking away what you’ve given away is a bad thing to do.”
“Then let’s exchange it. I’ll sign this coat and give it to you, so give me that shirt. I also want to own an item that contains memories like that. It’ll make me feel better if I can look at it from time to time and remind myself that there were two young girls who came to see me.”
Joohyun grabbed her coat, telling her not to hesitate. She really looked like she would take out a pen if she wasn’t stopped. Hamin felt complex. Joohyun laid out the coat on the table. The brand logo that she knew had one more zero than what she expected, entered her eyes. She reflexively raised her hand.
“You can’t sign an expensive coat like that.”
“Then I’ll give you the coat without signing it, so can you give me the shirt?”
“No. I won’t give you the shirt. It’s mine.”
“Miss Hamin. You are quite a stubborn person unlike what I saw during the show.”
She felt that the conversation was heading in a weird direction, but she became weirdly obsessed with protecting her shirt after seeing Joohyun’s serious eyes. That shirt was a treasure that contained her memories. She managed to get a sign from an actress she admired on her first trip with a friend of hers.
“You’ll receive retribution if you toy around with a young person like that,” Maru said from the side.
He kept drinking the appetizer tea, saying that it was good. When he raised the teapot, Joohyun made a soft smile and pushed out her cup. She also hung the coat back on the coat hanger. Hamin realized that she had been toyed with.
“You should also have a drink and calm down. It’s a habit of hers to probe people out and play pranks on them.”
“It wasn’t a prank though. I really want that shirt,” Joohyun said while giving Maru a glare.
Hamin received the tea for now. She was just feeling thirsty from all the talking.
“She did something similar to me when I was in high school. She’s a strange person who asks a kid about what acting philosophy he has, so don’t worry about it too much.”
“Did you ever see me ask that to other people? I only asked because there was a kid in front of me who I didn’t know what he was thinking. Usually, I just chat delightfully like I’m doing with Miss Hamin here.”
“It may be delightful for you, but it makes the listener feel complex because they can’t tell whether you’re joking or being serious. I mean, look at her. She looked good before she came here.”
“She looks the same. Miss Hamin. Did I make you uncomfortable?”
Hamin shook her head. She was rather flustered, but it was fun regardless. She could talk to Joohyun like a friend despite the fact that this was practically her first time meeting her. If her friend heard about this, she would be very surprised, and she might even get angry for not calling her over.
“Uhm, can you take a photo with me?”
Maybe it was because of the nice talk that allowed her to gain the courage to speak. Though, she wouldn’t be able to do anything if she said no.
“You were giving me glances just to say that?”
“No… actually, yes. May I?”
“In fact, I would have asked for it if you didn’t. It’s not every day you get to meet a fan like this. Han Maru, what are you doing? Get her phone.”
Maru put out his hand while sipping tea. Hamin quickly placed her phone in his hand and went next to Joohyun. She stood modestly and created a v with her fingers.
“Come closer. It’s a celebratory occasion.”
“You have a cute side to you, huh? You don’t have to ask for my permission for everything. You’re someone I invited out to eat because I wanted to.”
Joohyun hooked arms with her and smiled brightly. Maru, who was standing on the other side, raised the phone to eye-level.
“Here it goes. Three-two-one.”
There was no pause between his words at all. As soon as he said those words, he shot a photo and lowered his phone. Hamin subconsciously raised her voice,
“Do it properly!”
Only after she said it did she regret it. She felt like she snapped out too sharply. Joohyun, who hooked arms with her, laughed to the point that it echoed inside the room.
“Yes, that’s the voice I remember. Maru, do it properly, will you? Go up on a chair and get a good angle.”
“You called me here to have me do this, didn’t you?”
“You just realized? Go on up. I have to look pretty in the picture with Miss Hamin.”
Maru scratched his eyebrows and went up on a chair. Hamin took a photo with Joohyun with their cheeks almost touching each other. The moment she took the photo, she had the vague premonition that everything would go well this year.
“Can I send the photo to the friend that was with me back then?”
“Of course, you should do that. But do you still keep in touch? A 10-year friendship sounds amazing.”
“Yes. She’s also an actress. Unlike me, she’s been practicing acting since she was young.”
“Then I might know her, huh?”
“I heard that she met you in a press conference? Or something like that.”
“That’s quite a fate too. Tell me about her too.”
Just as she was about to send the photo to her friend, the door opened and a server came in with a cart full of food.
“Let’s talk about the rest over some food. If you don’t want to, I am more than willing to hear you out while eating by myself, so keep on talking. Oh, you know that pasta doesn’t taste good once it gets bloated, right?” Maru said while pointing at the plates.